By Josh Hasten/JNS.org –
A recently revealed Israeli State Comptroller’s report that remains under a government gag order has ignited concern over the Muslim Waqf’s attempts to erase Jewish ties on the Temple Mount–Judaism’s holiest site–and Israeli authorities’ neglect of those activities.
The classified document, whose contents were published by the New York-based newspaper The Jewish Voice, details ongoing illegal excavations being carried out on the Temple Mount by the Muslim Waqf (trust) and places blame on those responsible for overseeing the site–namely the Israel Antiquities Authority, the Jerusalem Municipality, and the Israeli police. The report suggests that those Israeli bodies have been turning a blind eye to the damage caused by the Waqf pertaining to ancient Jewish archeological findings.
In response to the leak, attorney Aviad Visoly–chairman of the Joint Staff Movement of the Jewish Temple Mount Organizations, an umbrella for 27 bodies that advocate for Jewish rights on the Temple Mount–says that he has sent a letter to the state comptroller requesting an immediate removal of the gag order so that Members of Knesset can discuss its findings.
Visoly tells JNS.org that the goal of the Muslims on the Temple Mount “is to eliminate all remnants of Jewish history.” Nevertheless, he is optimistic that as a result of the report, along with a “tremendous rise” in the willingness of Jews to visit the Temple Mount, “we are on the verge of a revolution of a state of affairs in which for the first time in 2,000 years, Jews will be able to pray freely on the Temple Mount.” Visoly says that currently around 100,000 non-Muslims visit the site per year, with approximately a third of them being Jewish. Israel’s Chief Rabbinate opposes visits by Jews to the Temple Mount due to the concern that they may inadvertently step into an area that, according to halacha, is forbidden to enter unless one is ritually pure.
Yisrael Medad, the secretary of the El Har Hashem Temple Mount advocacy group and a member of the Temple Mount organizations’ coordinating council, tells JNS.org that while according to Israeli law Jewish worship on the Temple Mount is legal, there is “collusion between the government, police, and the courts, who don’t want any problems.” Police at the site forbid Jewish prayer, claiming that allowing it will cause the Muslims to riot or could even ignite another violent intifada (uprising).
Medad says that over the years, Israeli courts “have blindly accepted claims by the police that [Jewish worship] is illegal on the Temple Mount,” but that information contained in the comptroller’s report itself debunks that myth. Medad cites one instance in 1967 when Jewish prayer was temporarily banned, while the report explains in a footnote “that it appears that no general decision was made to forbid Jews from praying on the …read more